These are favourites which have stuck with me over the years. Click on the titles to read the reviews.
In The Globe and Mail:
The Boys in the Trees by Mary Swan: A mercurial and mesmerizing, dark but thrilling novel that is almost a set of linked short fictions. Probing the hidden and shadowed side of life Swan reveals and conceals at the same time. As illusionary as life. Buy the book.
The English Stories by Cynthia Flood: Linked short fictions set in England post WWII. Though the characters don’t realize it, their ordered Dominion both global and domestic, political and personal is beginning to disintegrate. Buy the book.
Underground a novel by June Hutton: To find illumination in the darkness that shapes his life, it is necessary to “step to the side,” something that protagonist Al Fraser learns. To survive the First World War, the Spanish Civil war, and the minutia of his life, it is essential to trust past experience, squelch his fears, and persist. Buy the book.
In The Vancouver Sun:
Madness, Betrayal and the Lash a biography by Stephen R. Bown. Unlike Captain George Vancouver, who logged 65,000 nautical miles during his five-year exploratory voyage, his biographer, Bown, is terrified of the sea. Bown makes a new case for a man who deserves more than the ignoble footnote history has given him. Buy the book.
Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant. Not every Italian Renaissance novice confined to the cloisters was an eager bride of Christ. Dunant’s historically accurate fictional account of one rebellious woman determined to marry for love is a powerful testament to the women behind the walls and the lives they created. Buy the book.
In Kyoto Journal: Perspectives from Asia:
The Time in Between the 2005 Scotiabank Giller Prize winning novel by David Bergen. Haunted for 30 years by a boy without a gun or shoes he killed as an American GI, Charles Boatman returns to Vietnam looking for answers. Buy the book.
Falling Blossom (The Sword and the Blossom in the USA) by Peter Pagnamenta and Momoko Williams. The love story of British General Arthur Hart-Synott and Masa Suzuki from 1904 to Masa’s death in 1965. Taken from their letters as well as military and family archives in Japan and Europe, the book reveals the miracle of love that endures in spite of everything that works against it. Buy the book.